In the past few years, public
health officials from around the world have begun to alert us to
the possibility of a global pandemic involving the so-called
Avian Flu. Like you, I paid little attention
to this issue affecting countries far away.
With everything else on our plates who has time to learn about
something that may or may not happen. A few
days ago my opinion completely changed. I
attended a seminar at the UMASS Medical School sponsored by the
Department of Fire Services. Officials from
the Massachusetts Department of Public Health presented
information to fire service officials from around the state.
At the end of the presentation you could hear a pin drop!
The message was simple; it is not a question of
if, it is a question of when.
I asked a member of the panel
a simple question; what can we in Acushnet be doing in
preparation of the flu coming to our area?
The answer was short and sweet; begin to educate the community
on what this is all about and what residents can do to protect
themselves when the time comes.
With that simple statement as
our goal we are dedicating space on our department website to
this possible pandemic. Our first step is to
provide the residents of Acushnet with the tools necessary to
access information in order for them to gain as much knowledge
That being said, the
following links will bring you to sites that were recommended by
officials at the UMASS conference:
www.who.org: The World Health Organization provides a list
of frequently asked questions regarding a pandemic
www.cdc.gov: The US
Center for Disease Control offers information and other useful
www.iafc.org: The International
Association of Fire Chiefs has set up this page to provide
useful information on steps you can take to limit your exposure
to the flu
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
In Acushnet, the
Emergency Response Team – a group
consisting of representatives of public safety, public health,
school and town hall officials – meets regularly to plan for
emergency incidents. Our community’s ability
to respond to a pandemic is our top priority.
In the weeks to come we will be sharing information on
what is being planned, how you can help and what you and your
family can expect.
One final note. A state official at the
conference told the audience – mostly comprised of Fire Chiefs
much older and experienced then me – that if this pandemic hits
it will be the single largest challenge of their career.
That was a sobering statement. Only
by properly preparing can we minimize the impact on our family,
friends and neighbors.
Kevin A. Gallagher
Chief of Department